The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pathetic crust with high hydratation doughs

  • Pin It
nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Pathetic crust with high hydratation doughs

Hi,

my mixed rye breads are getting more and more satisfying to my tongue, at least as far as the crumb is concerned, but the crust is simply pathetic: initially it seems to be dry and crunchy, but after one hour it begins to tenderize and become soft and gummy, horrid to to say the truth.

The bread below - a 30% rye bread- shows very well the poorness of the crust (

p.f.: 150 gr rye flour, 250 gr water, 10 gr rye starter, 12 hours

dough: 10 gr of salt, 150 gr water, 350 gr pizza flour

).

I preheated a casserole on the fire for several minutes, them moved the dough in it (supported by oven paper), covered the casserole and baked the bread at 250°C for 30 minutes covered and 45 minutes outside the casserole.

The crumb is sweet, very soft and very creamy (it seems to have been abundantly spread with butter),

but the crust had better not be there at all.

 

How to make the crust better without drying the crumb?

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

How long do you let this bread cool before cutting into it?

Jeff

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

8 hours

pjkobulnicky's picture
pjkobulnicky

You realize that ryes hold moisture and over time will soften a crust. So, what do you want from your crust? you seem to be baking it at hig temps in search of a crispy crust and that's just not very rye-like.  And, what do you mean by pizza flour? 00?  

pjkobulnicky's picture
pjkobulnicky

You realize that ryes hold moisture and over time will soften a crust. So, what do you want from your crust? you seem to be baking it at hig temps in search of a crispy crust and that's just not very rye-like.  And, what do you mean by pizza flour? 00?  

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

yes, I used 00 flour specific for pizza (a 00 flour stronger than the usual 00 cake flour but weaker than a bread flour, the best comprimised I found to get a crumb that feels soft and not chewy). I'm trying to get a crispy crust and soft crumb, hoping it's possible:)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Spelt?  or Kamut?

          or a hardy fresh ground Einkorn?  Substitute 50g nut flour?  

Here is where the potato water comes into it's own... for a nice flavoured crust!   Bread Spices?  Pat a nice nut oil on the loaf surface when shaping.

Don't wrap the loaf after cooling, keep the cut side down and put into a bread box.  

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Mini. As written above I used pizza flour because it gives me the stucture of the crumb I'm searching, while the 30% prefermented rye flour gives me plenty of taste. Spelt, Kamut and Einkorn flours that I can find here are far too weak to give an open structure like that, unforunately.

Potato water is a great idea!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, nico.

You have a boule made with about 1 kg of dough baking at 250 dC for 75 minute, the first 30 of which are covered.

That's a long bake for this size loaf, and at a high temperature. Also, the loaf is covered for a very long time. I think you would get better results baking at 230-235 dC for 50-55 minutes and uncovering the loaf after 15 minutes.

The benefits of steam end when the crust starts to form. You can tell this by the crust starting to color. After that, steam probably has a detrimental effect on crust texture.

You may just want to judge when the dough is baked by thumping it or using an instant-read thermometer.

Let us know if these modifications do the trick for you. I'm betting they will.

David

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

You are probably right that I'm oversteaming the loaf. Next time I'll follow your baking schedule and report. Thanks!

Mukoseev's picture
Mukoseev

I bake this rye (80% hydration) in a pre-heated dutch oven for 45 minutes at 435 degrees F, 10 minutes covered and 35

uncovered.

 

 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

does the crust hold its crunchyness? 

I want to add that I'm forced to use very high hydratations because this particular flour I'm using is a by product of successive sievings, thus it's very finely milled bran concentrate (a 100% poolish becomes a firm dough) .

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

from the air.  Could this be happening?  

I've never had a crust get more crispy as when it's fresh from the hot oven.  Crumb moisture will migrate from crumb to crust and evaporate if it can.  

If the high hydration is needed for crumb structure, what do you think about baking a flatter loaf like a focaccia so more water can steam off in the oven after the crumb is formed.   ???    :)

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

with all the humidity that is present down here. Bologna is not exactly known for its dry climate. You are always spot-on, Mini!

Rye doesn't help to keep things dryer, either.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi Nico!

I'm very sorry to hear that you're struggling with the crust on your loaves. I've recently experienced similar challenges, so I know how frustrating it can be.

Let me preface my reply by stating that I've never baked covered inside a casserole, like you describe here. Still, I think your crust issues is due to the moisture that is "trapped" inside the loaf, that migrates outwards and through the crust as the loaf cools down.

I had similar issues when I baked breads in a new oven; no matter what formula I tried, the crust got soggy within the hour after it was pulled from the oven. What works for me, is baking for longer at lower temperatures. The lower oven temperature ensures that it takes slightly longer before the loaf crust start setting up. It also means that you have to bake the bread slightly longer, which will help drying out the crumb a little more before the bread is finished. It will also help to open the oven door slightly a few seconds a couple of times during the bake, to let steam escape the baking chamber.

I agree with what David points out above: High baking temperature, a long total bake and long time covered. You need steam only during the oven spring, the first 12 - 14 minutes. After that, steam can be counterproductive. I think David's suggested baking times and temperatures are pretty much spot on, for a loaf this size. Try it out - I think you'll be surprised what a difference reducing the baking temperature by some 20 - 30 dC can do. Best of luck, Nico, and keep us updated on your progress.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

at 220° for 70 minutes, removing the bread from the casserole after the first 15 minutes,  but the crumb is still soggy:-(

This time around I used the gas oven leaving the door ajar for the last 10 minutes, but I'm still at the same point. I'm beginning to suspect a post-bake  enzymatic activity. You know how things can get mysterious when there's rye involved. This bread was a 50/50 durum and pizza flours, but started with a tiny rye inoculation.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi Nico,

I'm very sorry to hear that you're still struggling with the crust! I'm also surprised that changing some of the baking variables didn't do much to improve your result...

I could have this all wrong, but I thought the significant chemical reactions happened during the initial heating of the bread (i.e. first part of the bake), before the temperature kills off bacteria? The enzymatic activity in rye can have disastrous effects on the crumb if the dough is not acidified, but, as far as I know, this is also something that happens during the early stages of the bake. Of course, things can get mysterious... ;-)

You say that the soggy crust is a problem with your mixed rye breads, but if I understand correctly, you also get soggy crusts with all-white breads (50/50 durum/pizza flour)? So it's not related to a specific type of bread? Is this an issue that has popped up recently, or has this been a long-standing challenge? Have you changed any other variables recently, such as your oven, steaming setup or choice of rye flour for your starter? If you think the problem has to do with enzymatic activity, you could try a different rye flour and/or perhaps altering the feeding regimen of your starter?

On a related note, I recently bought a few kgs of whole rye flour from a different supplier than I use to. Both suppliers are large (the two largest in Norway), that deliver flour to commercial bakeries and for sale to home bakers via grocery stores. Early last week, I started feeding my starter with whole rye flour from the other supplier, and within a couple of feedings, the starter looked like it was dying on me... When it previously took roughly 10 - 12 hours for it to triple in volume and be perfectly ripe, it now didn't even double in 36 hours. It also looked a lot more soupy; things were definitely going on in there, but it didn't look healthy at all. I quickly swapped back to my regular supplier of rye flour in a last ditch effort to save the starter - and what do you know? It bounced back from the edge to its former self in two feedings. I remember running into problems with the whole rye flour of the other supplier on two previous occasions as well - I thought it was only a coincidence and that I was unlucky with a "bad batch" of flour, but when this stuff is happening repeatedly, I'll stick to my trusted supplier from now on. Well... please excuse my rambling, Nico, but I just wanted to explain why, in my experience, changing the brand of flour could be worth a shot.

If you think the issue is related to the oven, do you think you could bring the proofed dough over to a friend and bake it in a different oven? If it works out, I'm sure whoever volunteers their oven would appreciate one of your loaves, Nico.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

You say that the soggy crust is a problem with your mixed rye breads, but if I understand correctly, you also get soggy crusts with all-white breads (50/50 durum/pizza flour)? So it's not related to a specific type of bread? Is this an issue that has popped up recently, or has this been a long-standing challenge? Have you changed any other variables recently, such as your oven, steaming setup or choice of rye flour for your starter? If you think the problem has to do with enzymatic activity, you could try a different rye flour and/or perhaps altering the feeding regimen of your starter?

 

HansJoakim, I get always the same result, whatever the recipe. The only thing all my breads have in common is only the initial teaspoon of rye starter I use to inoculate the preferment. I can try to use my very stiff wheat soudough in order to remove any single bit of rye from my doughs, why not? I guess it's an attempt worth trying.
I baked my loaves using 3 different ovens (one is a gas oven and the other are electric mini-oven, one of which uses pure convection).

Thanks for all your help!

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi Nico,

Well, it seems reasonable to rule out the oven then, as you've already tried three different ones!

I would be very surprised if the speck of rye you use to inoculate the preferment would cause the soggy crust...

Have you tried a different steaming setup? Instead of baking inside a casserole, you could try one of the many steaming setups suggested here on TFL? A simple way is to put some nuts & bolts in a loaf pan, and put the pan on the bottom of the oven - pour a cup of boiling water into the pan once you load the loaf. Remove the pan after roughly 10 - 12 mins.

Is the crumb noticeably moist once you slice the cooled loaf? Is it is moist and slightly sticky, or does it feel more dry?

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Hi HansJoakim, my baking setup is quite problematic, I'd say rocambolic. I can try to add a container at the bottom with very little water within, but not remove it during baking (I can't totally open the oven door).

The crumb  is moist only when there's a significant amount of rye in the dough, the 50%/50% durum/pizza bread isn't moist and doesn't stick.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi Nico,

Well, it could be worth a shot? Just make sure to open the door frequently during the second half of the bake, so the bake finishes in a dry-ish baking chamber.

Unfortunately, neither Hamelman nor Suas are particularly detailed when it comes the details of baking a perfectly crisp crust. I believe the book by Calvel contains one of the better discussions of this stage of bread baking. Check out the section that begins on page 69 courtesy of Google books here - perhaps you'll get some ideas from this source, Nico? In any case, I hope you'll be able to sort out this issue, Nico, and I would very much appreciate if you could keep me posted on your progress!

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I will keep you posted, Hans Joakim. Thanks for the link!

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

I'm very sorry we're not able to offer you any more specific advice at this point, especially so since I well know how frustrating soggy crusts can be. I hope that testing out a new steaming setup can improve a little on this. I'm pretty sure this is related to the baking parameters, including steam and oven temperature, and/or the flour.

Thanks for keeping me posted - I'll also do some more reading and research on the subject, and we'll stay in touch until we've got it figured out.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Finally my problem seems to be solved. After all they were due to temperature and suboptimal oven.

I obtained crackly crusts in my gas oven baking at 230° starting from cold oven for 55 minutes, paying attention to insert the griddle just above the middle rack. Very impressive oven spring, too, that doesn't hurt:) Great results even with 25% rye doughs. Keeping the bread in a cloth bag with a tiny sheet of film to prevent the crumb from drying saves both the tenderness of the crumb and the crackliness of the crust.

Even in my new SHARP R-898 combination microwave oven I had very good results. This oven is particular because it simulates convection using an infrared grill at the bottom and a quartz grill at the top. Baking from cold oven at 220° for 60 minutes I obtained breads comparable to the ones baked in the gas oven, with the minor defect of small scorched areas at the top. Very interesting is the combination of convection+microwave: at 220°+90W during the last 20 minutes the bread is ready in just 40 minutes.

Oven spring in this small oven is even more impressive. Evidently -as I always thought- heat from the bottom is what really makes the difference.